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History of Baseball in Lansing

1889 In the first year of existence for a pro baseball team in Lansing, W.H. Mumby manages the squad to a 42-56 record and fourth place in the six-team Michigan State League.
1890 Under Al Manassau, Lansing loses 17 of its first 21 games. The Michigan State League folds in June.
1895 The Lansing Senators post a highly-respectable 56-36 record in the Michigan State League, finishing in second place. The team features 47-year-old Bud Fowler (born John W. Jackson in Cooperstown, New York), the very first professional African American baseball player. Fowler made his debut in 1878 in the International Association. In 1895, he is the only black baseball player playing professionally anywhere in the country. Fowler will finish his career with a batting average of .308 in 465 career minor league games. The team also features future Senators manager Jack Morrissey, who bats .362. The star of the team, though, is Jack Daley, who bats .397 with 124 runs scored, 143 hits, and 25 home runs.
1897 After a year's hiatus, Lansing rejoins the league... only to see the MSL shut down again in mid-season with the team in second place.
1902 Another tale of economic woe: The Senators shut down operations in August. The league disbands soon after.
1907 Playing in the Southern Michigan League, the Senators finish 46-57 behind the leadership of proud Lansing native John "Jack" Morrissey. It is Morrissey's first of eight consecutive seasons in charge of the Senators. He had played in the National League with Cincinnati in 1902-03, batting .258 in 41 games.
1908 Lansing finishes with a middling 60-65 record, but pitcher George Pearce makes a name for himself with 298 strikeouts. Player/manager Morrissey piles up 141 hits to lead the offense.
1910 In Jack Morrissey's finest season at the helm of the Senators, Vic Saier (175 hits) and Homer "Slab" Warner (23) lead Lansing to an 87-52 record, tied for first place with Kalamazoo in the eight-team Southern Michigan League. However, the Celery Eaters defeat the Senators in a playoff for the league championship.
1911 Slab Warner outdoes himself, setting a new SML record with 26 wins and striking out 231 batters. The Senators post a 79-55 mark, good for second place in the Southern Michigan League.
1912 Al "Bull" Durham, playing for Lansing and Bay City, sets a new league record with 25 home runs and Jack Onslow tears up Southern Michigan League pitching to the tune of a .385 batting average. The Senators finish 65-62.
1913 T.H. Nellis collects 146 hits in the Senators' first season in the newly-named Southern Michigan Association, but the team finishes just barely out of the cellar in the eight-team league.
1914 On July 10th, the 33-35 Senators move to Mount Clemens and become the Bathers, finishing 63-80. The Southern Michigan Association disbands at season's end.
1921 Playing in the Central League, the third-place Senators finish 65-63 thanks in large part to 18 wins from star pitcher Lawrence Reno and a .348 batting average from Charles Miller.
1922 Lansing slips to 60-67 and fifth place, though Les Bell stars with a .329 batting average. The league shuts down after the season.
1940 Affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals as part of Branch Rickey's groundbreaking farm system, the Lansing Lancers are the doormat of the six-team Michigan State League despite a dynamic offense, batting .294 as a team. Gerald Burmeister paces his teammates with a .360 average, 15 home runs and 86 RBI. Teammate Dick Sisler, son of Hall of Famer George Sisler, bats .322; he would later play eight seasons in the Major Leagues.
1941 Renamed the Senators and no longer affiliated with the Cards, Lansing loses 78 of 113 games, with Everett Robinson's .345 average and 95 RBI going for naught. The team disbands at season's end and the league follows shortly thereafter.
1996 Professional baseball returns to Lansing with the Lugnuts, a Class-A Midwest League affilliate of the Kansas City Royals. The franchise that became the Lugnuts was born in Lafayette, IN, in 1955, moving to Waterloo, IA, in 1957, where it would stay for 35 seasons. The franchise was purchased by Tom Dickson and Sherrie Myers in 1995, who moved it to Springfield, Illinois. The next year, it was brought to the capital city of Michigan. The very first game played at brand new Oldsmobile Park is between the University of Michigan and Michigan State University on April 3rd, 1996, won by the Wolverines, 5-4, in 10 innings. On April 5th, the Lugnuts play their first game, drawing 9,318 fans despite temperatures in the 30s to see a 9-5 10-inning loss to the Rockford Cubbies. On July 6th, the Colorado Silver Bullets, an all-female pro baseball team, play at Oldsmobile Park. The Silver Bullets, managed by Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, lose to the Madison Stars, 8-1. Over the course of this inaugural season, the Lugnuts set a record for Minor League Baseball attendance, drawing 538,326 fans. Pitcher Blaine Mull sets single-season franchise records with 15 victories and 174.2 innings pitched, though he also allows a franchise-record 186 base hits.
1997 How could an inaugural season be topped? By hosting the Midwest League All-Star Game and then winning the Midwest League Championship! In the ASG, a league record crowd of 10,060 sees the Lugnuts' Steve Medrano drill a triple in the bottom of the ninth and score the winning run on Jason Conti's walkoff single, lifting the East to a 6-5 victory. The Lugnuts finish the season with a 69-68 mark, squeaking into the playoffs. In the first round, the Nuts eliminate Michigan, 2 games to 1; in the second round,the Nuts sweep Fort Wayne in two straight games; and in the championship round, the Nuts outlast Kane County in dramatic fashion, 3 games to 2, made even more memorable by a mascot brouhaha between Big Lug and Ozzie the Cougar in Geneva, Illinois. The season also sees Jose Santiago make his debut with the Kansas City Royals on June 7th, making him the first Lugnut to reach the Major Leagues.
1999 After missing the playoffs in 1998, the Lugnuts enter 1999 with a new affiliation, switching from the Royals to the Chicago Cubs. The Nuts also host the MWL All-Star Game for a second time, setting a new record with an attendance of 10,234. The game is wrapped up in a brisk two hours, nine minutes, with the West shutting out the East, 4-0. Behind Midwest League Prospect of the Year Corey Patterson, who hits for the Lugnuts' first cycle on July 5 at South Bend, the Nuts make the playoffs. In the first round, Lansing sweeps away Michigan in two games before having the tables turned on them in a two-game sweep by Wisconsin in the second round.
2000 Ryan Gripp leads the league with a .333 batting average and 166 hits, adding 20 home runs and 92 RBI while Oscar Montero posts an astonishing 0.37 ERA, allowing one ER in 24.1 innings, but the Lugnuts finish 70-68 and miss the playoffs. A dubious achievement happens on June 13 when Clinton's Scott Dunn twirls a 7-0 perfect game against Lansing.
2002 Another All-Star Game and MWL Championship in the same season? Almost. The Nuts host their third Midwest League All-Star Game (the East defeating the West, 6-3, before a record-breaking crowd of 10,334) but fall in the Championship Series to Peoria, 3 games to 1. The Chiefs capture the title in stunning fashion rallying from a 10-2 deficit in Game 4 with a run in the 8th and eight runs in the 9th inning for an 11-10 victory.
2003 A memorable April 21: Donnie Hood hits for the cycle and Justin Jones, Westin O'Brien, Mark Carter combine to throw the first no-hitter in franchise history, blanking Dayton, 15-0. The season gets better from there: Lansing's Keith Butler collects three hits in three at-bats and drives in the game-winning run in the All-Star Game to be named the Star of Stars. In September, the Lugnuts win their second Midwest League Championship in dominating fashion, sweeping South Bend in two games, Battle Creek in two games, and Beloit in three games. Starters Anderson Tavares, Carlos Vasquez, and Andy Sisco lead the way, with lights-out closer Jason Wylie saving a franchise record 29 games to go along with 1.38 ERA
2004 Eight different Lugnuts are named to the Midwest League All-Star Team, though one stands above the rest. The Lugnuts' Brian Dopirak is honored as both the Most Valuable Player and the Prospect of the Year after ripping up Midwest League Pitching for a .307 batting average, 39 home runs, and 120 RBI. Both home run and RBI totals set new franchise records. Chris Walker adds a franchise record 60 stolen bases. On the mound, catcher-turned-ace Carlos Marmol posts 14 wins and strikes out 154, though he is overshadowed somewhat by 21-year-old Sean Marshall, who records a startling 1.11 ERA in seven starts, striking out 51 while allowing only 29 hits, six earned runs and four walks in 48.2 innings. The season also sees Mark Prior make a pair of rehab starts on assignment.
2005 In the offseason, the Lugnuts switch affiliations from the Cubs to the Toronto Blue Jays, though the change does not result in a fifth consecutive entrance into the postseason. Still, seven different players earn All-Star Game nods, including highly-regarded pitching prospect Casey Janssen. In seven starts, Janssen notches a 4-0 record with a 1.37 ERA and a 38/4 strikeout/walk ratio. The season's other highlight sees Chip Cannon hit for the cycle in the midst of a 14-13, 13-inning victory against Clinton on June 2nd.
2006 Joyce's Lugnuts finish 72-65, making the postseason and eliminating South Bend before losing in the second round to West Michigan. The season features two 17-inning marathons, an April 23rd 4-3 victory over Beloit and a June 3rd 5-3 victory at South Bend. Notably, not one member of the 2006 Lugnuts roster -- numbering 43 total players -- has made the Major Leagues.
2007 The inaugural Crosstown Showdown is held between Michigan St. and Lansing on April 3, won 4-3 by the Lugnuts in nail-biting fashion. The season's star is Blue Jays top prospect Travis Snider, who hits for the cycle in reverse order (amidst a 5-for-5 night) in a 9-3 victory at Fort Wayne on July 7. He finishes the season with a team-leading .313 batting average, 143 base hits, 16 home runs, and 93 runs batted in. On August 25, there is a different reason to celebrate as the Lugnuts welcome in Oldsmobile Park's 5,000,000th fan.
2008 Behind 28-year-old first-year manager Clayton McCullough, the Lugnuts win their first division title since 1999, wrapping up the first-half Eastern Division title.
2009 In the third Crosstown Showdown presented by Auto-Owners Insurance on April 16th, the Lugnuts and Michigan State Spartans draw a record crowd of 12,992, as the Spartans win a 12-2 laugher for their first victory in the annual exhibition series. 18-year-old Henderson Alvarez receives the Opening Day start vs. Fort Wayne. Alvarez further distinguishes himself in defeat on May 24th, losing a 1-0 game to Cedar Rapids in an hour and 46 minutes.
2010 Before the season, Oldsmobile Park is renamed Cooley Law School Stadium. Former MLB catcher Sal Fasano makes his managerial debut. On May 1, Chris Hopkins' walk-off single in the 10th lifts the Lugnuts to a 3-2 win over the TinCaps for the team's 1,000th all-time victory.
2011 Steered by MWL Manager of the Year Mike Redmond and spearheaded by MWL Midseason/Postseason All-Star outfielders Michael Crouse and Jake Marisnick, the Lugnuts qualify for the playoffs via tiebreaker on the last day of the first half, then make an unexpected postseason run to the Midwest League Championship Series. Down to their last out in Game 2 of their first round series against powerful Dayton, the Lugs receive a dramatic two-run game-winning home run from Matt Nuzzo on September 9, starting a string of four consecutive playoff victories vs. Dayton and Fort Wayne to clinch the Eastern Division title. However, the Lugnuts are swept in three games by Quad Cities in the finals.
2012 After defeating the Michigan State Spartans, 7-0, before a new Cooley Law School Stadium record crowd of 12,997, the powerhouse Lugnuts jump out to a team-record 7-0 start behind new manager John Tamargo, Jr., the club's hitting coach during the previous two seasons. On May 12th, left fielder Kevin Pillar goes 6-for-6 to tie the team and Midwest League record, finishing the historic day with a 9th inning grand slam in a 16-4 rout at Dayton. Two days later, on May 14th, the Lugnuts turned a triple play in a 4-2 victory over the host Dragons. The Lugs went 20-9 in May to tie another team record before finishing the first half with a team-best 47-22 mark, easily topping the Eastern Division. Seven players are named to the midseason Eastern Division All-Star Team, helmed by the Lugnuts coaching staff, which routs the Western Division All-Stars, 18-2, in Kane County. Led by a prospect-laden pitching rotation starring Justin Nicolino, Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard and Anthony DeSclafani, Lansing finishes the season with a club-best 82-55 record, including a team record 16 shutouts. Closer Ajay Meyer sets a new team record with 33 saves and first baseman K.C. Hobson supplies a team record 43 doubles. At season's close, Tamargo is named the Midwest League Manager of the Year and Pillar is named MWL Most Valuable Player, with Pillar (outfield), Nicolino (left-handed starter) and Meyer (right-handed reliever) named to the MWL Postseason All-Star Team. The good fortune lasts only as long as the regular season; the Lugnuts are swept out of the postseason in two games by Fort Wayne.
2013 The Lugnuts gain dubious notice, victimized by no-hitters on three separate occasions and experiencing a 21st century version of Merkle's Boner when Santiago Nessy neglects to run to second base on Chris Hawkins' seeming game-winning single on July 1st. The ballclub finishes the season with a 61-78 record, though the season is redeemed by breakout performances from pitchers Daniel Norris and Ben White, shortstop Emilio Guerrero and outfielders Dwight Smith, Jr. (the team MVP) and Dalton Pompey. On June 18th, Pompey serves as the hero of the MWL All-Star Game, averting a potential tie with a game-winning full-count, two-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. On August 16th, Guerrero seizes the day with a franchise/league record-tying 6-for-6 performance, including a grand slam, in a 14-5 rout at West Michigan. Norris, though, gains the most attention of all, thanks to a highlight-making grab against the Whitecaps that turns viral on Youtube.
2014 With John Tamargo, Jr., back at the helm for a third consecutive season, the Lugnuts feature the talents of powerful third baseman Mitch Nay, a Midseason and Postseason MWL All-Star, assisted by fellow Midseason All-Stars Derrick Loveless, a breakout star in the outfield; slugging Matt Dean; and closer Griffin Murphy. The team's initial star, though, is ace right-hander Kendall Graveman, who takes a no-hitter into the ninth at Beloit and allows only one earned run during four April starts. Graveman proceeds to sizzle up through the Jays' system, jumping through A-Adv. Dunedin, Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A Buffalo on his way to a stunning Major League debut in September. He is accompanied in making his Toronto debut by fellow former Lugs Aaron Sanchez, Dalton Pompey and Daniel Norris. The season is also highlighted by headline-grabbing cameos from 30-year-old knuckleballing Frank Viola III, 19-year-old outfield phenom Anthony Alford (who then left to play defensive back on the Ole Miss football team) and 19-year-old pitching phenom Miguel Castro. The Lugs compete until the season's penultimate day, when they are knocked from playoff contention by a home loss to South Bend, finishing the year with a 62-77 record.
2015 Cooley Law School Stadium undergoes a massive renovation in the off-season, including a new 360-degree concourse; permanent stadium seating throughout the seating bowl; the all-you-can-eat Pepsi Porch tiered picnic area; three HD video boards - a primary board above the left field wall and ribbon boards along the right field wall and the suite facia; remodeled suites, front offices and clubhouses; the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame; and The Outfield development, featuring Good Hops and The View. On the field, the Lugnuts met with great early-season success. The team's hitting coach in 2014, Ken Huckaby moves into the manager's chair, presiding over the Lugnuts' first Eastern Division title since 2012. Lansing wins the first half with a 42-28 record, turns a triple play on June 21st, and boasts a prolific offense that led the league in runs (699), total bases (1878), doubles (263), stolen bases (162), slugging percentage (.396) and OPS (.733), and was only shut out once all season. The lineup is loaded with talent: center fielder Anthony Alford, shortstop Richard Ureña, first basemen/designated hitters Rowdy Tellez and Ryan McBroom (who ties the league/franchise records with a 6-for-6 performance on July 12th at Dayton, and collects hits in nine consecutive at-bats to come within one of the league record), outfielder D.J. Davis, catcher Danny Jansen, second baseman Tim Locastro and outfielder Chris Carlson. At midseason, five Lugnuts -- Alford, Ureña, Tellez, McBroom and pitcher Shane Dawson -- are named All-Stars. In early July, Locastro, leading the Midwest League with 30 steals and 21 HBPs, is traded with ace Chase De Jong to the Dodgers, allowing Toronto to sign top international free agent Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. Promising right-hander Jesus Tinoco is later packaged in a deal to the Rockies in exchange for All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. On August 6, the 10-member inaugural class of the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame is inducted in a special ceremony at The View. Several weeks later, McBroom is voted the 2015 Midwest League Most Valuable Player and named to the Post Season All-Star Team at both First Base and Designated Hitter. The end of the season is spiced by the September 2nd rehab appearance of Blue Jays' standout Marcus Stroman, who works 4 2/3 hitless and scoreless innings, striking out seven Great Lakes Loons. The Lugnuts finish the season 73-66, sweeping the Great Lakes Loons in two games, and then falling in three games in the Eastern Division Finals to the West Michigan Whitecaps.
2016 Steered by first-year manager John Schneider, the Lugnuts experience a season with a seven-minute skunk delay (in Dayton on August 22nd) and the second no-hitter in franchise history... in a losing cause (Game 2 of a doubleheader at Peoria on July 14th). More importantly, it is a year packed with talent: 2014 1st-rounder Max Pentecost, 2015 1st-rounder Jon Harris and 2016 1st-rounder T.J. Zeuch headline a prospect-laden roster, with a starting rotation filled out with dominating performances from Sean Reid-Foley, Francisco Rios, Ryan Borucki, Jordan Romano, Justin Maese, and Mid Season / Post Season All-Star Angel Perdomo, who leads the league with 156 strikeouts in just 127 innings. The season concludes with the first autumn edition of the Crosstown Showdown presented by Auto-Owners Insurance. A crowd of 8,432 on September 6th beholds an electric pregame Home Run Derby won by slugger Connor Panas, overpowering debuting teenagers Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. and Bo Bichette in the first round before outhomering MSU's Dan Durkin 14-10 in the final, followed by a 4-1 Lugnuts triumph.
2017 First-year manager Cesar Martín's Lugnuts are headlined by two special second-generation talents, shortstop/second baseman Bo Bichette and third baseman Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. Both are voted Midwest League Mid Season and Post Season All-Stars and represent the Blue Jays at the MLB Futures Game. The 19-year-old Bichette bats .384 with 109 hits (including 32 doubles) in just 70 games, earning the double honor of Midwest League Most Valuable Player and Prospect of the Year. Meanwhile, the 18-year-old Guerrero receives national media coverage and is named Baseball America's No. 2 prospect. Unheralded Edward Olivares enjoys the most notable game of the season, hitting for the cycle on April 24th vs. the South Bend Cubs. Nearly a month later, on May 18th, the Lugnuts win their 1500th game as a franchise, a 5-1 victory over the Cubs in South Bend. Another running theme: hit-by-pitches. The Lugnuts set the Midwest League single game record on May 3rd by getting plunked six times by Peoria pitchers. On August 20th, Solar Eclipse Day, outfielder Nick Sinay sets a new Midwest League single season record with 38 HBPs. The two largest crowds of the year: 11,449 on the 4th of July, and 10,232 on Harry Potter Night. The Lugnuts finished with a 63-73 record, missing the playoffs, ending the baseball year with a 5-1 defeat of the Michigan State Spartans in the 11th Annual Crosstown Showdown presented by Auto-Owners Insurance on September 5th. The pregame HR Derby is won by MSU freshman Adam Proctor, topping teammate Marty Bechina in a swing-off before besting the Lugnuts' David Jacob in the final.
2018 Cesar Martín returned for a second season in Lansing, and a cohesive clubhouse led by outfielder Chavez Young and first baseman/outfielder Ryan Noda qualifies for the MWL postseason with a 43-27 first half record and finished with an 80-60 record, the second most wins in a season in franchise history, tying for the most road wins (39) in franchise history. The Nuts score an MWL-leading 720 runs and steal an MiLB-leading 203 bases behind 44 steals apiece from Chavez Young and Samad Taylor. Noda himself tops MiLB with a franchise record-breaking 109 walks. The earliest stars of the year are promoted quickly: Opening Day starter Yennsy Diaz is named MWL April Player of the Month after posting a 0.31 ERA (1 ER in 26.2 IP) and .063 avg against (6-for-95), and shortstop/third baseman Kevin Smith dominates to the tune of a .355/407/.639 slash line in 46 games. On May 22nd, reliever Kyle Weatherly commits three balks in the 7th inning at South Bend. On June 19th, the Lugnuts host their fourth Midwest League All-Star Game; Bowling Green catcher Ronaldo Hernandez wins the pregame Home Run Derby and Dayton first baseman Montrell Marshall takes MVP honors with a two-out walk-off RBI single in the 10th inning, lifting the Eastern Division to a 3-2 win before a crowd of 9,396, the second largest crowd of the year (11,302 on the 4th of July). On August 26th, a day after hitting an inside-the-park home run, Brandon Grudzielanek swats a massive three-run homer off the dragon's claw to the top left of the Fifth Third Field videoboard in Dayton. The 12th annual Crosstown Showdown presented by Auto-Owners Insurance is held the day before the postseason, September 4th: MSU's Adam Proctor defends his home run derby title through two playoff swing-offs against teammates Zaid Walker and Andrew Morrow, and then walks off to beat Lugnuts outfielder Freddy Rodriguez, 7-6, in the final. The Lugnuts win the game, 6-4, with starter Nate Pearson touching 102 mph while striking out four Spartans in two scoreless innings. The postseason ends in a two-game sweep at the hands of the eventual champion Bowling Green Hot Rods.